CHEYENNE - Since 2008, thousands of hunters of all ages have taken advantage of Wyoming’s Hunter Mentor Program, which allows hunters who have not yet completed a hunter education course, to participate in hunting activities in Wyoming.
Wyoming law requires anyone born after 1965 to have completed an authorized hunter education course before using a firearm to hunt wildlife in Wyoming. The Hunter Mentor Program, established in 2008, allows a one time, one-year exemption from completing a hunter education course as long as that person is with someone 18 years of age or older who has completed a hunter education course. In addition, the mentor must also possess a valid Wyoming hunting license and a hunter education card while in the field with the mentee. The mentor can only supervise one hunter at a time while in the field and must be in direct supervision (sight and voice contact) at all times.
When the hunter mentor program began five years ago the Game and Fish discovered that a wide age variety of hunters took advantage of the program.
As expected many youth chose the mentor route for a year, but there was also a significant number of people in the 20-45 age group that also signed up for the program. To date, more than 4,700 individuals have used the program with ages of mentees ranging from four to 80. The single largest age group continues to be 12-year-olds with 677 youth of that age group enrolled since the program began. An additional 1,349 youth between ages 9-17 have also participated in the program. A somewhat mild surprise is the 20-45 adult age group which has had nearly 2,400 persons participate. It is expected that more hunters will take advantage of the program this year as fall hunting seasons play out.
Hunter education coordinator Jim Dawson said that to date, more than 2,100 of the mentored hunters have gone on to enroll in a hunter safety class.
The special hunter mentor authorization is valid for one calendar year. After that, any person participating in the program must comply with the hunter safety statute, which means they must pass hunter safety before taking wildlife without a mentor.
Dawson said that anyone who plans to hunt in Wyoming can participate, but youth must be at least 12 years of age to hunt big game.
“Hunters should be aware that the special hunter mentor authorization is only valid for one year,” Dawson said. “After that, a hunter safety course is required to hunt in future years.” Dawson said it does put the burden on the accompanying mentor, regardless of age to have completed a hunter education course.
Information on the Hunter Mentor Program and upcoming hunter education courses is available on the Game and Fish website wgfd.wyo.gov.
(Contact: Al Langston (307) 777-4540)